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May 12, 2004

Who Fired the First Shot?

PROEM:
Thanks to Prof. Reynolds for linking to me in a post that was already must-reading. For anybody new to this blog: for an easier-to-read page layout, click "Turn Light On" at the top of the left-hand column.


Wednesday is off to a slow start, mostly because of time spent attempting to process a post from Sheila Lennon on her Providence Journal blog. It's about Nick Berg's murder — or partially about it:

Nick Berg, according to first reports, died for the sins of the Abu Ghraib.

To those who are sorry only that the photos came out, I can only say there were no photos from German concentration camps, but truth came out anyway. Germany has never recovered from what was done in its name in secret there.

There's not a lot of high ground left for anybody to claim right now. If Donald Rumsfeld was having a bad week already, Michael Berg is going to make it a lot worse.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the tape shows the "true nature of the enemies of freedom." He said those responsible have "no regard for the lives of innocent men, women and children." It sounds hollow and simplistic in the light of Abu Ghraib.

I fear that we are on the brink of an ideological civil war in this country far worse than the one tore families apart -- over Vietnam -- in the '60s.

Al Qaeda isn't mentioned. Berg "was beheaded in Iraq"; he died for America's sins, as if to balance some cosmic scales. What that indicates about the murdered and desecrated contractors in Fallujah, I don't know; the latest video is treated in isolation from everything except Abu Ghraib and the Patriot Act. The only appearance of the word "terrorist" comes when Ms. Lennon quotes Nick's father, Michael, from a radio interview after he had heard about his son's death:

It goes further than Donald Rumsfeld. It's the whole Patriot Act. It's the whole feeling of this country that rights don't matter any more because there are terrorists about.

Well, in my opinion "terrorist" is just another word like "communist" or "witch" -- it's a witch hunt. This whole administration is just representing something that is not America. Not the America I grew up in.

That's simply... stunning. Look, we all should rightly have a high threshold to criticism of the Bergs, at this time, and to an extent, that means letting anti-war (and anti-Bush) forces leverage Mr. Berg's words for their own cause. To be sure, Michael Berg was among them even before his son was detained on March 24. Lennon notes a Free Republic posting that reprints a March 20 list of people endorsing A.N.S.W.E.R.'s call to "End colonial occupation from Iraq to Palestine and everywhere!" Michael Berg, in conjunction with his son's business, is on it.

Ms. Lennon pivots on Free Republic, quoting a post from the site that dismisses Abu Ghraib in context of Berg's murder, to move toward the "ideological civil war" point quoted above. Apparently, she was unable to bring herself to provide her readers with a link to the post, itself, but searching it out, one might notice that the second comment to it was an objection. In contrast, I can't think of a single instance in which Ms. Lennon has criticized the zealots on the left. Ted Rall, for one example, has escaped censure. So has Air America hostess Randi Rhodes, who suggested that President Bush ought to be shot (while reciting the Hail Mary). Civil war, indeed!

One wonders what, precisely, Lennon fears about a civil war, considering that she blithely compares the misconduct of some soldiers at Abu Ghraib with centrally orchestrated mass murder in Nazi concentration camps. If Iraq is "tearing America apart," Ms. Lennon, you and other members of the mainstream media, with your constant blaming of America and nostalgia for Vietnam, are certainly tugging hard on one side of the rift.

Posted by Justin Katz at May 12, 2004 12:29 PM
Culture
Comments

It's depressing that after this many years, the left still doesn't believe that anybody, anywhere, at any time, was a communist. Or so one is led to think with this laughably ignorant reference to "witches."

Posted by: Sage at May 12, 2004 1:24 PM

This gets my blood boiling.

Those who believe that the murder of Nick Berg is in anyway related to retaliation for the events at Abu Ghraib is in complete denial. (or just possibly, politically motivated)

These people actually believe that Nick Berg would be safe in the hands of terrorists if not for ... spare me.

Justin, you are in fine company (such as Andrew Sullivan) on this one.

To compare or analogize or consider murder as an appropriate retribution in any way is sickening. It is equivalent to those who excused the 9-11 attacks as having been caused by American policies.

Abu Ghraib is a black eye for our country and some of the outrage is justified. The people directly responsible should pay with a court martial out of the military and possibly some time prison.

The people responsible for the murder of Nick Berg should pay with their lives.

That is the only proper justice.

One more thing, this brutal murder of an innocent man only further justifies the attack on Iraq. To believe otherwise, is practically unthinkable.

Posted by: Mark Miller at May 12, 2004 3:39 PM

Mark, not to be sarcastic, but what about the left isn't politically motivated. Their every breath is drawn to be expended in the reclamation of power. I find nothing that they say to be a surprise. Just depressing.

Posted by: Mike H. at May 12, 2004 11:40 PM

What bothers me is the attempt to analogize or compare the inhumanity of what occurred at Abu Ghraib with the inhumanity of the murder of Nick Berg or even 9-11. That sickens me.

As far as political motivations, I truly beleive that if the same events had occurred during a Democratic administration, then some Republicans would be calling for the resignation of the Secretary of Defense, pundits of the right would be saying that what occurred at Abu Ghraib is due to the lack of moral leadership in the White House and Rush Limbaugh would be reading the names of the people killed in Iraq on his show.

My point ? That partisanship rules.

Posted by: Mark Miller at May 13, 2004 10:30 AM

Mark,

I have to believe that the further out on their rhetorical limb such people go, the more other people will recoil from them.

On the partisanship point: to some degree, what you say is obvious, but you skirt the line to too far. For one thing, conservatives and Republicans are generally more hawkish, so war raises their ire much less, regardless of who's in power. For another, I honestly don't believe that Republicans (or the political right) are anywhere near so far gone that such outrageous comments would be made by their leading lights.

I haven't been paying attention to politics for long enough to make confident assessments, but I'd be surprised to learn of a large segment of the political right failing to approach war more pragmatically than politically.

(P.S., glad to have you comment, again.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 13, 2004 2:13 PM

I agree that extreme rhetotic breeds more extreme rhetoric.

But I think you're being either a little naive or just partisan to think that this rhetoric isn't tied to political gain on both sides.

You wrote: "I honestly don't believe that Republicans (or the political right) are anywhere near so far gone that such outrageous comments would be made by their leading lights."
-- You're kidding, right ? Ann Coulter. Even Rush is shamelessly partisan (and not even intelligently, in my view).

Anyways, my current rant is regarding the treatment of the abuse scandal as opposed to denial of other 'atrocities' by the left. More fish to fry there.

Yea, I guess my presence here means that time does heal wounds.

Posted by: Mark Miller at May 13, 2004 4:43 PM

I should have been clearer. By "leading lights" I meant figures like Ted Kennedy, who actually have government authority, but my parenthetical comment did overstate it. Still, in the current circumstances — against Iraq, after September 11, War on Terror, large military deployment — I think the rhetoric from the right would be more reasonable, or at least unreasonable about less central issues.

(Of course, it's presently difficult to envision a Democrat administration approaching the war in such a forceful manner, so the hectoring from the right would likely be about the begging the U.N. for approval, for example.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 13, 2004 5:01 PM

So, Nick Berg's execution is in retaliation for Abu Ghraib? And to the "Left", this is justified...?

Can these actually be the same persons who scream that the death penalty is unjust under any circumstance?

I wish I could say that I don't understand what they're thinking when they apply their double- (and quadruple-) standards, but sadly I do understand. It is merely their pathetic attempt to influence the weak minded to "think" as they do. It's a power-grab.

I can only hope that those who are attempting to control the minds of the western public will continue to ignore the bloggers and to consider all of you (this is my first blog, by the way)as insignificant as they truly believe you are.

Political "civil war" a la the Viet Nam era? I say it's about time. Jane Fonda, John Kerrey and their ilk have been suppressing the voices of persons like me for too long. It's time we had our say. I'm glad that Andrew Sullivan, and all of you readers, are paying attention, and I hope others who have a public voice will learn to do the same.

Thank you bloggers, and keep up the good work!

Posted by: Julie Walsh at May 14, 2004 12:03 AM

Welcome to this side of the divide, Julie. I think you'll find that the views are better over here.

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 14, 2004 12:08 AM

Why is it so awful to say that the beheading of Nicholas Berg was a retaliation for Abu Ghraib? The killers *said* that was their reason, so it seems like a pretty open-and-shut case. The Tates and LaBiancas were killed because Charles Manson wanted to foment helter skelter because that's what Charles Manson said he was trying to do. Just because it's a bad excuse, an immoral reason, idiotic, or of no moral consequence to the rest of us (I believe all those things -- about both Manson and Al Qaeda) doesn't make it false.

Posted by: Victor Morton at May 14, 2004 2:16 AM

'Well, in my opinion "terrorist" is just another word like "communist" or "witch" -- it's a witch hunt.'

Communism is just another word huh. Tell that to the Kullaks. Oh wait. You can't because they're dead. Michael Berg lost his grieving space with that comment.

Posted by: mishu at May 14, 2004 2:51 AM

first and foremost Berg was an accident heading toward disaster-full stop. iraq for the most expereinced expatriate contractors is not charm school. in my experience, it is the most demanding job site in the world. my engineering team trains for a week on the procedures of security and survival before entering the war zone.

so as i mourn mr. berg and his sacrifice, i really wonder why his carefree attitude towards security, contracting and travel in a war zone is not enough to have people wonder "was he really prepared for this assignment." I guess he wasn't and political spin aside...don't send babes into the woods, there are killers out there.

Posted by: dubai 1949 at May 14, 2004 5:08 AM

first and foremost Berg was an accident heading toward disaster-full stop. iraq for the most expereinced expatriate contractors is not charm school. in my experience, it is the most demanding job site in the world. my engineering team trains for a week on the procedures of security and survival before entering the war zone.

so as i mourn mr. berg and his sacrifice, i really wonder why his carefree attitude towards security, contracting and travel in a war zone is not enough to have people wonder "was he really prepared for this assignment." I guess he wasn't and political spin aside...don't send babes into the woods, there are killers out there.

Posted by: dubai 1949 at May 14, 2004 5:09 AM

First and formost Nick Berg was on the other side.

Al Qaeda and the American left both know this and they sacrificed one of their own in a futile attempt to get the American public to force their government (GWB et al) to turn tail and run.

(At least I hope the attempt is futile.)

The bad guys know that they cannot win on the battle field so they abuse democracy by trying to win the PR battle. It worked for Vietnam, why not Iraq?

Posted by: Uncle Bill at May 14, 2004 9:01 AM

Ted Kennedy is a fine example - but I still believe that if the White House were Democrat there would be Republicans who would behave in a similar fashion (OK, probably not as bad as Ted) to take political advantage. Tom DeLay has shown signs.

"Of course, it's presently difficult to envision a Democrat administration approaching the war in such a forceful manner, so the hectoring from the right would likely be about the begging the U.N. for approval, for example."
----- What about Tony Blair of the left-wing Labour party in the UK ? The conservative/right there are treating him and his support of the war not much differently that the Democrats are treating it here.

Posted by: Mark Miller at May 14, 2004 9:03 AM

Mark, the British Labor/Conservative divide doesn't map directly to the American political spectrum. The Conservative party of Thatcher is unfortunately just a memory now; the Tories have had internal problems and the party has reverted to pre-Thatcher populism. Nowdays they mainly just blindly react to Labor's initiatives, and as populist isolationists they have more in common with today's Democrats than Republicans. This has put the Labor party in an interesting situation because they now have elements of both liberalism and American conservatism in their party, and Blair is trying to be their fusionist. It remains to be seen how it will come out.

Victor, what you say is true as far as it goes, but you do of course realize that it's just an excuse. If Abu Grahib hadn't happened, Berg's captors would have just found some other excuse to kill him.

Julie, you pretty much hit the nail on the head in your last post. It's confusing because it is not intended to make any intellectual sense. The liberal's sales pitch is all about manipulating emotions and convincing people that their actions should be determined entirely by their emotional responses to everything. Why? Because people who let their emotions determine their actions in all circumstances are easily manipulated by well-constructed propaganda. It's a control technique. This is why you see traditional education and intellectual reason denounced by liberals as "oppression by dead white men"; independent thinking easily destroys their sales pitch.

It's been my contention for a while that most of the meaningful political debate in America today takes place within the conservative camp. That's why the Republican party so often seems to be in chaos compared to the Democrats. Party discipline is easy when debate has been suppressed. There are still some independent liberal thinkers around, such as Sullivan and Jeff Jarvis, but they have almost no influence among the liberal leadership.


Posted by: Cousin Dave at May 14, 2004 9:47 AM

Cultural Civil War could not come fast enough for me. Comparing communism to a witch-hunt is exactly the kind of rhetoric that needs exposed for the lie that it is. Persons who perpetrate this lie think we live in the era limited broadcast diversity. During the Vietnam War those American affiliates were so eager to garner headlines from duped European sources, which have now been proven to come from fake KGB publications. We know this to be true because the KGB admits this and it is corroborated by the release of classified KGB documents. This fact doesn’t seem to faze the apologist’s however. How many retractions were never published? How many people in this country formed their political opinion from outright lies? Yes, this 'civil war’ could not come fast enough for me. I am confident that the truth shall prevail and help dispel the myths of the past! Then those that refuse to change their opinion in light of irrefutable evidence will rot away in a much-deserved historical abyss.

Posted by: duh at May 14, 2004 10:06 AM

It bothers me to hear the Ted Kennedy's, John Murtha's, et al, to claim that this is GWB's Viet Nam, or we're losing this war. In doing that, they send a message to those vile people who pervert religion for their own sick goals.

As many have said here, and elsewhere, Nick Berg's murder was another poke in our eye, another attempt to weaken our resolve in the fight in Iraq. I guess they're too stupid to figure out that Bill Clinton isn't in the White House any more, and that we're not going to take this hit and run bombing, on our facilities, or attacks on our people like he did for eight years.

At what point does not engaging terrorists overseas not make sense to some of our politicians? Pre-emption sure as hell beats having things happen in our cities and towns. I mourn the loss of our servicemen and women when they happen. But, if the choice if take the fight to them, or their coming to our shores, I think you know the answer.

Mr. Berg has every right to be upset, losing ones child is not easy, never is, never will be. He has every right to lash out if it helps him in his greiving. However, politicians of any party should not try to capitilize on these situations.

Posted by: Chris at May 14, 2004 4:04 PM

What irked me was the comment from Berg's father that this is "not the America I grew up in."

Ah, the nostalgia of the left for the America of their youth. Never mind that 90% of the time, they talk about the America of the 1950s and 1960s as a place of racism and sexism and exploitation of the workers; when the Patriot Act comes up it suddenly transforms into the place of perfection that must never be changed one iota.

Posted by: Brainster at May 14, 2004 8:48 PM

The terrorists who murdered Nick Berg did not do so in retaliation for the alleged abuse of Iraqi criminals in Abu Grahib. They may be monsters but they are not stupid. What would otherwise be viewed as yet another totally unprovoked serial murder seemed to gain some spurious justification from the timing of the abuse story about Abu Grahib. Nick's murder was not an act of revenge but an adept attempt at propaganda to fuel Muslim and Liberal hatred for America. Unfortunately the attempt succeeded both in the Arab world and in the Liberal world when it should have been seen for what it really was and always will be - SERIAL MURDER on an international scale!

What kind of people would sympathize with a serial killer in the US? The same kind that sympathize with the Muslim butchers? Why is it that our news media devotes weeks and months to heinous murders committed within our borders but dispenses with international homicides in a matter of days? Why is it that we dwell interminably on the 'sins of our sons and daughters' in Iraq, yet skim over the atrocities committed to our 'sons and daughters' in Iraq and elsewhere? Something is very wrong with this picture and something is very wrong with this country when we are so inconsistent with criminal conduct and with standards of right and wrong as applied to domestic and international enemies of life, liberty and humanity.

Posted by: Len Porochnia at May 14, 2004 10:25 PM

Why did Nick Berg die when he did?

Because the enemy thinks what it reads in the New York Times and sees on CNN reflect America. If your only outlet for information was The Paper of Record, you'ld think that Bush was on the ropes, and had zero public support.

It's the same reason we got hit on 9/11, too. According to all the Smart People, we were doomed economically and probably ready for barricades in the street. Not a bad time for a strategic shot at the heart of our financial system, eh?

Chew on that for awhile. They don't know anything about us, really. They don't have to. They know their culture cannot survive in a world of free men. That's all they act on - murdering for the right to remain barbarians.

They picked the wrong people to fight. Civil war or no.

Posted by: TmjUtah at May 15, 2004 3:51 AM

What is sad is that our politicians don't care about the death of Nick Berg, or that they only care so that they can manipulate it for their use.

Kerry could not even bring himself to condemn this barbaric act, instead he goes on to condemn America and its "arrogance". Which, feeds more to those who hacked this young man's head off. Why do I fear that we'll see more of these kinds of horrific acts, and those Americans who hate America will continue to flap their gums and fuel the fires??

Surely, the Kerry's, Kennedy's, Murtha's have the right to speak their foul words. But someone needs to remind them that they're only building the fires in the bellies of these beasts. The more those scum see how it affects us, the more they will continue to do it, or even worse, and the more people like Kerry and Kennedy will rant.

I wish the good people of the Bay state would vote these two buffoons out of office.

Posted by: Chris at May 15, 2004 11:27 AM

ya, chris. the more that american political figures vilify the conduct of the war, covered in loving detail on the liberal propaganda networks, the more that terrorists will attempt to conduct an Islamic version of shock & awe -- abductions, video torture, more video executions. there really is no limit to the barbarity the islamic worldview could inflict.

bear in mind the islamic psychological makeup: trained since birth of western humiliation of islam. much of the arab anti-Semitism is hatred of the West, deflected to a safe target, b/c moslems know much of europe is anti-Semitic despite all the bleating otherwise.

if such video torture & executions start alienating europe, then the islamofascists may pull back. but it'd take a lot to alienate europe.

europe will be a major problem in the future. their hatred of americans & jews is escalating by leaps & bounds, and using islam as a sort of cultural blitzkrieg against america/israel perfectly suits their ends.

europe & islam. the twin emerging evils of the modern world.

steve

Posted by: stephen carter at May 16, 2004 12:45 PM


THe Nick Berg incident is tragic, but is it "really" tragic? IF someone chooses to be in Iraq, then they and the family have to realize that there is a "high" risk of being a target from militants and terrorists. To deal with them is even a higher risk.

The fact that the father of nick berg wants to blame the white house for the loss of his son is absolutely normal...but lets just hope that the people in this country also realize that nick berg made his own decisions and should have prepared himself better..not the US government.

And who is to say that if he was dealing with these militants, as well as the fact he was supposedly "returning home", why in the world would they let him leave alive? You can't deal with drug lords and just walk away like you never knew them and wasn't going to talk??

The Nick Berg death plays big into the politics against the Bush Administration I agree, but to me, I could care less. I will support an administration that will actually "DO" something about the problems after 8 years of Clinton that turned up doing nothing to "solve" the problem which we all knew was inevitable. I believe playing this line that it was the administrations fault will damage the media and the politicians who throw it...because lets hope and as much i as believe...americans will see right through it!

Finally, if we really "want" to win this war fast....lets get some kickin media attention that parades our country and our service men! Lets overpower the terrorism by media. Lets report what things we did accomplish and how much better we are today, etc. Terrorism and negative media will never change my outlooks and patriotism to this country! Good job servicemen and women! You rock their boat til it sinks!

Posted by: Shaun McCreight at May 17, 2004 4:06 AM

Shaun,

I hear ya, it would be great if the media would spotlight the good things we're doing in Iraq, but unfortunately to them that's not news. They, unfortunately see the bad things as news, and also unfortunately that they are tied to the hip to those to continually speak ill of America, the liberal elite.

Yes, the prison situation was disgusting, but it isn't and shouldn't be seen as "America as normal". America as normal is when crap like that occurs, investigating, prosecuting and sentencing those who do things like that.

No one has ever said that America is as pure as the driven snow, Dennis Miller said it right tonight on his show, "were human" we make mistakes, but we also fess up and do the right things.

We as Americans have to remind our politicians that they are accountable to US, not Europe, not the MidEast nations who are so upset at us for this. Our politicians rely on us to keep them in office. If they care so much about what other people think, they can move there.

It bothers me, a veteran, that our politicians are already telling the enemy that Iraq is unwinnable. These politicians are throwing in the white towel before the fight's over. That's dispicable, thats disgusting. They compare it to the prison's that Hussein ran. I don't know how Bay Staters can keep electing vermin like that. I guess they who live in Massachussetts either hae no pride in who represents them in the capital, or don't give a damn.

Posted by: Chris at May 17, 2004 11:40 PM

Are y'all for real? Nobody on the left believes that Nick Berg's death was justified, how could anything that horrible be equated with 'justice' in any form? But, like 9-11, it didn't simply happen because our enemies "hate freedom". It happened because there are people out there who are hurting, who are desperate and afraid. And there are others out there who are willing to take advantage of it for money, or power, or both. The insurgents have every right to fight, but most of them don't turn to dirty tactics like this. Whoever killed Nick was doing it to gain something - and it sure as hell wasn't justice. No one denies that, but don't use it to justify OUR further injustices. An eye for an eye leaves us all blind.
Michael Berg has EVERY RIGHT to blame this stupid death on our stupid president. Does anyone know where Nick was before he died? He was in US custody, as a detainee, and then he "disappeared" out of U.S. custody, to reappear, dead, just in time to give y'all rabid mental cases ammo for the "See, we ARE justified in our brutal, illegal, imperialistic occupation of a sovereign nation" chorus. And his ass wouldn't have even been there if it wasn't for your president (yeah, I said it).
If y'all are gonna rant and rave about the death of this poor boy, and how it's being used against Bush (well it IS his fault afterall) then just play a little game with me, imagine Clinton or even, gasp, Kerry is president, what tune would y'all be singin' then? H'mmm? Oh, I think you know, the same thing all you chicken-shit hawks were shouting during Bosnia, Kosovo, and Rhwanda - "Oh, don't waste U.S. soldiers, that's their problem, we're not the world-police" and other such nonsense while people were being MASSACARED. But freedom and justice don't matter when there's $$$$, at least if you're on the big money side of the "right wing", do they? That's why it's ok that Saudi Arabia engages in torture and all kinds of evil shit, but it's "ok" because they make us money and they're close friends of the Bushes? But Saddam was of no further use to us, so let's bomb the hell out of his country? WE gave him the sarin and mustard gas, WE gave him anthrax, WE gave him bombs and guns, and then that somehow gives us the right to bomb civilians and churches and schools?
You are either for peace, and honor, and justice, or you are against it. We all know which side Saddam was on. I think it is obvious which side our current administration is on. Which side will you be on? The side working for peace, truth, understanding, progress? Or the side using weapons of metal, chemicals and words to make their point in the rhetoric of fear and intimidation? This used to be a free country. This used to be a great country. We have tossed aside the principles that have ruled us for 200 years for what, cause some man-child wanted to play cowboy? Because he didn't have the strength to guide America through danger without taking away half of what made it worth defending? What the hell "problems" were there under Clinton? What, we were making too much money? Our enviroment was being protected? What was so bad about it? At least you could bitch about Clinton without everyone calling you a traitor.
And yes, the witch/communist comment by Mr. Berg was VERY APT, because there is something about a mob that defines it's targets by group-traits, rather than by individual merits. Those who called for the witch and communist hunts were probably right in saying there were some in their ranks, how many do you think they really caught? There is a big difference between being an educated woman, and being a devil worshipper, and in being an educated political thinker, and being a communist spy. Unfortunately, no one was very good at making distinctions when they were needed, just as now - according to the Red Cross 60 - 70% of detainees in Iraq were detained by 'mistake'. Someone doesn't know what they are doing, and they are in charge. And damned if I'm not going to blame you if they still are in Novemeber.

PS: Hey, as a Californian, even if Bush wins (for the first time, and it ain't likely at this rate) I've got one word for ya: RECALL! Trust me, for those of you too brain-dead to know the danger we're in - I lived in Texas when Bush first became governor, the man is an incompetent, greedy, racist, arrogant, sadistic and downright STUPID person, let alone 'leader'. You can thank me when you've come out of that coma.

Posted by: kristin at May 18, 2004 12:23 AM

Writing from San Francisco, the liberal capital of America, I find it very interesting that this was said about the left (by Cousin Dave on May 14):

"Julie, you pretty much hit the nail on the head in your last post. It's confusing because it is not intended to make any intellectual sense. The liberal's sales pitch is all about manipulating emotions and convincing people that their actions should be determined entirely by their emotional responses to everything. Why? Because people who let their emotions determine their actions in all circumstances are easily manipulated by well-constructed propaganda. It's a control technique. This is why you see traditional education and intellectual reason denounced by liberals as "oppression by dead white men"; independent thinking easily destroys their sales pitch.

It's been my contention for a while that most of the meaningful political debate in America today takes place within the conservative camp. That's why the Republican party so often seems to be in chaos compared to the Democrats. Party discipline is easy when debate has been suppressed. There are still some independent liberal thinkers around, such as Sullivan and Jeff Jarvis, but they have almost no influence among the liberal leadership."

That is exactly what my friends and I talk about when we discuss the right--the double standards (as Julie mentioned), the propaganda, the lack of thought, the appeal to the weak-minded. I am enjoying this discussion because it is the first thoughtful discussion I have heard from the right. When I try to discuss this with friends and family in Ohio who vote Republican, no one is educated on the issues. Even the issues that are glaring you in the face everyday, such as to war or not to war.

And as for the discussion on Nick Berg, it does not matter what we, sitting cozily at home in front of our computers, think. What matters is what each enemy thinks. If the American military believes the Iraqis in the prisons are terrorists whether proven guilty or not of being a terrorist, then the Americans will abuse them. If the Iraqi enemy thinks they are beheading Nick Berg for revenge of prison abuse, then they are beheading Nick Berg for prison abuse. Then the American "enemy" will retaliate in some way as well. The retaliation never ends and just gets more and more creative. I think we should all be prepared for more gruesome beheadings as long as the war continues. That is part of the Islamic culture of war. It's disgusting, but that's how they have operated throughout history. This war is not ending soon so for everyone who is pro-war, you've got it. And it will be blaring across our computer screens and TV's constantly. We rushed into it with very poor planning and now we have to deal with the massive insurgency that is occurring. Intellectually, I think it has been poorly executed, and emotionally, I am sad for all the lives lost--almost 800 American soldiers and almost 15,000 Iraqis. Plus the countless permanently wounded physically and emotionally. And I'm sad that Cousin Dave doesn't feel such emotions.

Posted by: Angie at May 18, 2004 1:06 AM

CBS, NBC. ABC, and CNN have indirectly caused this by the way that they cover the middle east. They sympathize with the enemy and give them a platform to perform before a a world stage. Their anti-American stance is politically motivated to embarrass and pull down the Bush Administration. They need to be censured for the role they play in what is happening. To show their impartiality (uh...hmmm) they have become anti-American. Maybe they would be glad to have that fine Arab/Muslim culture in charge of the USA.

Where did the blame America club get started?

Where would the world be if America suddenly quit supporting them with our tax dollars,if we sealed our borders from legal and illegal immigrants, called our corporations back to American soil and said to hell with all of ya!

Do you suppose that that the benvolent Arab/Muslim Nations would pick up the slack when we just say no to the UN dues? What about the fact that we send money and aid to any disaster in the world, but who sent aid to us when we were attacked? Why are we held to a different standard than the rest of the nations? Everyone that has lined up as anti-American we need to drop like a rock from our public trough funds. If we are not Americans first, then what is the point? Should we just sign over our sovereignty to the UN now?

People of the right and people of the left will never see the same view. Hopefully we can all see ourselves as Americans before we pull this nation apart. We are fragmented in too many areas.

Posted by: Jody Huck at May 18, 2004 12:27 PM

Nick, Abu Gahrib, real photo's fake photo's, left and right tugging at "optioning" all of the above.
Interesting how easily sidetracked we all are from the fact that there is a war going on, war is not and has never been very pretty. As humans engage in the wars at the extreme edge of humanity (and beyond it) there will be ample evidence of some bad humans, no matter the levels of control, no matter the side. Not excusable, but a simple fact that every veteran knows.
I just find it near to unfathomable that after 9/11, which is indisputeably the Pearl Harbor of our generation, we seem to be a nation trying to argue the application of political correctness to a WAR!
Right and wrong, grow up and get real. It is as it has always been about keeping the ability to have the "stuff" we have, and sleep calmly at night.
Like we didn't push some buttons to get the Japanese to do Pearl Harbor? Time to wake up folks, mistake or not, buttons we pushed or not, the bottom line is we are in it! Perhaps something akin to actually engaging in it would be in order.
What would a George Patton do? I'd like to think that post Nick Berg, if not post the contractor scorchings, he would have leveled the village with little quarter.
Some of the posts are accurate, we are approaching "Vietamisation" of this event, in that the polls are suggesting what we should or shouldn't do. I think that putting a leash on the Marines in Fallujah, and allowing them to proceed under new stewardship is going to prove real soon to have been a serious mistake.
Look at the history of it, win or else people. To play this game otherwise is going to cost us much, much more.
Pontificate all you want, curse a half dozen soldiers for being stupid, and be sure not to even consider the 100,000's that are not, and are playing for keeps, right wrong or otherwise on YOUR BEHALF, and the behalf of maintaining gas prices, and so forth and so on, so that we can live our lives something like what we are accustomed to.

Where is the country that provided for the fact that all of Europe even exists to piss on us today?

I am sick to death of having to try to decipher the facts from the bullshit that gets spewed at me from the talking heads. I am equally sick of the fact that the influence of them would have a single command, a few soldiers poorly timed and orchestrated drinking sessions and sexual proclivities actual be able to establish WAR FIGHTING policy.

Posted by: Rick at May 18, 2004 2:01 PM

Kristin,

Thanks for the reminder of how dramatic a difference in basic assessments and understanding of facts exists between Americans. (The thanks are sincere.) However, I won't attempt to address it all. Two quick points, though:

1. Your timeline for Nick Berg's death seems to be a little off, or at least you're missing some steps in it.

2. At best, your claims about "conservatives" apply to a narrow range of us. I, along with the dreaded "neocons," aren't nearly as averse to international actions for the benefit of other nations (and the long-term benefit to us). My only problem with Clinton was that I didn't trust him to approach the problems thoroughly, a distrust in which I've been largely confirmed, I think.

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 18, 2004 10:57 PM

Angie,

I'm gratified that my blog happened to be a venue for you to discover thought here on the right. Blogs do seem to offer opportunity to cross ideological lines for debate.

Beyond suggesting that the insurgency is hardly "massive" and asserting disagreement about the planning (war not being something that will tend to follow a timetable), I want to note something about the following:

The retaliation never ends and just gets more and more creative. I think we should all be prepared for more gruesome beheadings as long as the war continues. That is part of the Islamic culture of war. It's disgusting, but that's how they have operated throughout history.

It seems to me you've some internal contradiction there. How can an act that adheres to an historical culture of war be said to be some sort of new stage in an escalating conflict? Videos of murder by beheading aren't even new to the modern war on terror, the first coming pretty early in the campaign.

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 18, 2004 11:05 PM

As for the sick (the video literally made me throw up) Nick Berg story , i can understand why the media don't give too much attention to it. Sure there is absolutely NO justification for such a horrible act, but mr Berg was in Iraq and Iraq isn't a really safe place to be right now. Hold that thought. Imagine for a minute that you are an iraqi citizen. Before GWB started to make unproven claims that there were weapons of mass destruction in iraq, they lived under Saddam. Saddam wasn't a nice bloke, he did awful things to his own people, BUT most iraqis felt sort'a safe under his reign. Now here comes mr GWB, takes over Iraq in record breaking time. American soldiers were expecting to be welcomed as heroes, for saving the iraqis from this evil dictator.. And they were by most iraqis, cause finally iraqis could say what they want, they wouldn't have to worry about any innocent lives being lost anymore, no more familly being tortured, children finally getting a chance to be raised in a safe environment, or so they thought for a little while at least. But obviously the killing didn't stop, iraqis were still being wrongfully arrested, some of them tortured, or at least mal-treated, children and women are still getting killed. And in ADDITION to that, streets are less safe then they used to be, there's more gunfire and war going on in the country.. people WILL feel LESS safe than they used to. And that's all there is to it if you ask me. the image of being "safe and free" under american reign is fading quickly. With every woman or every child that gets shot by americans, another "terrorist" is created. The image of the americans has never been very good among most muslims, so if you are going to start a war in the middle of muslim territory as americans, you would have needed to be doing it cleaner and better than ever before. Obviously that is not the case. Personally i feel that this is a popularity contest the us army isn't going to win if they keep on going like they are doing now. From the iraqi point of view i can understand why they don't like americans too much, the situation didn't improve, that needs to change quickly, otherwise this whole war will be a lost cause.
So to come back as to why the media don't give too much attention to Nick Berg, simply because he was a casualty of war. The video was sick, the assasins probably even worse. But there's a war going on in iraq, so expect some casualties over there. The US went to iraq to free the people, to give them what american citizens have. Freedom and a save environment. So do the media need to show what the americans are doing wrong in iraq? YES they do, cause if we know about it, we can do something about it. It is not about breeding hate among muslim people, nor is it about breeding hate against muslim people, like someone commented before. This is about making the world a better place and one cannot do that by screwing up. Casualties happen, i feel sorry for Nick Berg and his family, we all should, but what is more important is that we get iraq back on its feet and make sure that iraqi people don't suffer the same fate as Nick Berg. We need impovement in iraq and we can only improve if we know what is wrong, which is exactly why the media should focus on all the things that could be done better. Though some positive news can help, i agree on that as well.

I would like for people to stop and think before making statements. I've read things in this discussion which can piss me off quite a bit and i simply need to air my thoughts here. So to name a few:
"if the choice is to take the war to them, or have them come to our shores..." To me that is typically american, so affraid of terrorism, that we rather start bombing some place than have a small chance of actually being bombed ourself. Do we remember that it turned out that iraq didN'T have WOMD?? And in fact this war is only fueling muslim extremism, INCREASING the chance of another 9/11 event. Not a very smart thing if you ask me. There was a really good reason for going into afghanistan, iraq is a little different though.
Jody didn't make a really smart statement IMHO. Cause what if "america would close all it's borders... ... and said to hell with ya all" i would almost wish the american government would do that for once. Just to show all those people in america who think just like Jody, that the world is not only in need of America, but that America needs the world just as badly. I won't even begin to explain why, cause a 12 yr old can figure that out.
Same would go for the last comment of Rick, saying that "all of europe only exists because of america". Sure europe needed help during WOII, but will you please stop acting like it's all because of american greatness that you helped us. Did you even pay attention during history classes? Europe asked for help before the americans entered WOII, but it wasn't really till american ships with american people on it were being torpedoed by german U-boats that the americans decided to jump in. And again i shouldn't need to remind you that helping europe was in americas own interest as well, those tax-dollars spent on recovering germany and the rest of europe did pay off.
But the most insane thing which i have read here must be Stephen Carter's statement: "Europe & islam. the twin emerging evils of the world" to me that statement just goes to show how little some americans know about other cultures and how easy it is to be affraid of or to hate something you do not really understand. Neither Europe nor the islam is an emerging evil, what they are, are two different aspects of the world which might cause some problems every now and again with american policy, but that's just because they are all different. and different DOES NOT equal evil, just so that it's clear. 99.9999% of all problems can be solved without gunfire if you ask me.
Personally i don't hate americans, i don't think they are all a bunch of morons, that would be like saying all muslims are terrorists. Which obviously isn't the case. I do think there is something wrong with american foreign policy however. Don't feel harmed too much though, cause i disagree with my own dutch government as well. And it is always easy to have comments about certain policies. i understand that the current global relationships are complicated. With 6 billion people on this planet it will be hard to keep everybody satisfied. It's a challenge, but i honestly do hope that we all eventually can find a way to co-exist peacefully. One can easily breed hate, it is harder to create understanding.
Nick Berg's assasins had a reason for killing him. Do i respect that reason? Nope, not a chance. Do i understand the reason? Not really, but i can try to see it from their point of view. Would i kill these people if i had the chance? Nope i wouldn't, that wouldn't make me any better than these people at all. that simply would be forcing my beliefs onto them, which is wrong. The violence has got to stop somewhere, retaliation leads to no end. As the world's foremost superpower, which the US is, it should give the right example. If you ask me, Bush is making a mess of it. Take for example all the prisoners on Guantanamo Bay, where did their human rights suddenly go to?
Politics is a difficult game, and GWB is a lousy player, at least outside of the US. i sincerely hope that at the end of this year US citizens will put someone else in charge.

Posted by: Tim the European at May 19, 2004 12:38 AM

Mark Miller:
I think otherwise. Berg's murder does not justify attacking Iraq in the first place. Bush's war on Iraq was illegal and unjust. Illegal because Saddam did not pose a threat to the U.S. Argue and justify all you want, but it won't change the true nature of Bush's phoney war. A war because Bush couldn't distinguish between his presidential and leadership obligations to America and his personal anger against Saddam and his fear of losing the 2004 presidential election. Unjust because the war is not validated by any humane or self-defense reasons.

It seems to me that Bush must have had a huge shock from 9/11, on his watch. He knew if he didn't do something he would lose the 2004 election. So he attacks Iraq, (falsely and deceptively claiming WMD,) an easy target, almost defenseless, so he can claim, "I am an aggressive, tough WAR president and deserve to be re-elected." How does that compute with the your claim that a year after the commencement of the war the brutal murder of Berg justify Bush's war.

Posted by: enditem at May 19, 2004 1:01 AM

of course i meant WWII instead of WOII which is the dutch abbreviation for the same thing.

Posted by: Tim the European at May 19, 2004 1:43 AM

Tim the European writes, speaking of Nick Berg's killers, "forcing my beliefs onto them ... would be wrong." My mind boggles at this statement. Um, forcing the belief "murder is wrong" onto someone would be wrong? I really, truly do not understand how you can think that what you just said is moral. Murder *is* wrong. That is a moral absolute, and no amount of arguing is going to change that fact.

Do *I* understand the reason those terrorists had for killing Nick Berg? Sure. Pure, undiluted, festering hatred. Would I kill them if I had the chance? In a second. If they were put on trial and convicted, I'd volunteer to serve on the firing squad. Then afterwards, I'd go home and sleep like a baby.

"The violence has got to stop somewhere, retaliation leads to no end." What I have just described in the paragraph above would not be retaliation, it would be justice. I have no personal reason to want to carry out vengence against those who murdered Nick Berg. There is no hatred in my heart as I write this, just the sure and certain knowledge that those murderers have committed an act that deserves no lesser punishment than death, and that executing them would be just.

If you have sunk so deep into moral relativism that you cannot tell the difference between a murder and an execution, then it's far past time to wake up.

Posted by: Robin Munn at May 20, 2004 12:37 AM

well, i stand by my statement that europe is a rising source of evil in the world, though i realize this is at first blush an outrageous statement.

europe is the self-appointed guardian of liberal values in the world today. yet liberal values are simply no-values, an absolute tolerance of any belief is utter moral relativivism. this position seriously argues that no one else's beliefs can or should be evaluated or condemned. these are the politics of cowardice.

why is europe a source of evil?

most of europe was not, i repeat, *not* democratic prior to WW2. in germany, italy, and spain fascist regimes came to power in the 1920's-30's. prior to that, italy & germany only formed into unified national states in the late 19th Century. the constituent parts that were unified were mini-states with authoritarian forms of rule, or even absolute monarchy. the idea that europe has been somehow historically a beacon of democratic light in a dark world is an absolute myth. even france went through 4 republics in the 19th Century, none of which guaranteed basic democratic freedoms. the rise of fascism in 20's/30's was not so much a change representing a political difference in kind as merely a difference in degree. europe simply became even less free than it had erstwhile been. the only european state that has seriously protected basic democratic freedoms over the last 3 centuries is britain.

the only states today fighting a war on terror -- which, to call a spade a spade, is a war on militant islam -- are the u.s., britain, & israel. that's it. and yet these three are the most vilified, hated states in the world today. the most vociferous hatred comes from europe. this reflects the reality of europe's historical antipathy to democratic and civilizational values.

meanwhile the world's worst human rights-abusing states are increasingly admired by the liberal left. a visitor from mars would conclude that dictatorship is the most popular form of government on planet earth, & democracy the most universally hated.

so in europe today the reigning ideology is one of undemocratic 'spin', of perception, of appearing always compassionate, peaceful, tolerant. yet the reality is one of abject corruption. two of its most prominent leaders have been formally charged with criminal wrongdoing, chirac & berlusconi. chirac escaped this by passing a law on presidential immunity, while berlusconi did so through procedural tricks & similar attempts at statutory change. this is not a minor thing. it gives the lie to europe's claim to respect for the rule of law. the rule of law consists of who makes the law (freely elected legislators), who interprets it (independent, accountable courts), and who enforces it (a civilian police force). such is a serviceable definition of democracy. such indeed would *not* be a definition accurately reflecting institutional reality in most european states today, & certainly not of the EU bureaucracy.

add to that the massive funding directly from the EU to the Palestinian Authority, clearly part of which makes its way into terrorist activity. the European Parliament is not accountable to any electorate, to any constituency, it's another Euro-experiment in creeping absolutism. add to this Europe's self-induced economic stagnation, which, when it intensifies & escalates, as it likely will, will of course be blamed in some way on the u.s. this in turn will lead to an arabist-style discourse of european humiliation at the hands of the u.s.

to repeat, corruption in european political life is well-advanced. it's no accident that france & germany opposed the iraq war, for purely selfish, illegal, mercenary reasons, connected with the u.n.'s corrupt disbursement of billions of $ in the oil-for-food scam. strange how there's been almost total silence by liberal media everywhere on french, german & russian venality, their blatantly illegal activities in connection with iraq & the un. EU corruption & undemocratic political experiments will sooner or later lead to a true hyperstate, though, thankfully, a militarily weak one.

for anyone willing to look clearly, the elements are all there. european moral drift and self-righteousness, political corruption, shallow democratic roots, a few key powerful institutions of control, an emerging cult of 'cultural humiliation' not unlike its more virulent counterpart in the moslem world, a reluctance to engage in self-criticism, an envy of america's cultural & economic dynamism, & of its real, not made-up, values, a resentment of the assistance europe has repeatedly found it necessary to accept in the past 90 or so years, and much more one could observe. europe will very definitely pose a threat to world peace b/c europeans believe in nothing, nothing but their own benighted, illusory superiority.

when wmd do make their way into terrorist hands, as they inevitably will, i would hazard that the odds are much stronger it'll be europe's doing.

america, as yet, is largely unaware of this.

closing note: michael moore's film on bush apparently received a standing ovation in cannes recently. as i read somewhere, imagine a french director making a film critical of chirac receiving a standing ovation at the oscars. the idea is laughable. this is a fair gauge of how much europe matters in the world today.

europe, in brief, is incapable of being anyone's ally. best to just write it off entirely.

chao

steve (canadian)

Posted by: steve at May 20, 2004 1:14 PM

First,lets clear something up shall we?? At the end of hostilities back in 1991, representatives of the nation of Iraq signed a ceasefire agreement, not to be confused with a treaty. In that agreement he and his nation agreed to abide by the resolutions put forth by the United Nations. In over twelve years and just as many resolutions, the nation of Iraq ignored and/or failed to comply with resolution after resolution. He continued to shoot at American and British aircraft in the no fly zones. The UN and its member nations did nothing to insure his compliance with every resolution they bought forth and put in place. (we now know the reason why).

How long do you allow such an individual to remain in power?? How many dead Iraqi's, the ones many say lived a better life under Hussein, would there have to be before someone took action to remove him from power?? There's a sign in a place called Dachau, it says "Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it." At what point in time, does he, his sons, and his governments actions become too intolerable for the world to live with,ignore, avoid?? Under Hussein, Iraqi's had no choices, now they do, they have what many call freedom, fear from being hunted down and raped, tortured, murdered because they spoke out against the goverment. No, things aren't perfect there, but it never is when you go from tyrannical dictatorship to a form of democracy.

If this is a war about oil as some say, why is the price of gasoline in America so high? We control the country, and thus the oilfields, right?? Why aren't gasoline prices going down? Why if the US is "imperialistic" are we willing to leave, once the government is in place and asks us to leave? If the US is imperialistic, why aren't we in control of Germany and Japan?? We defeated them in WWII didn't we?? Imperialism isn't in the US's nature.

Then there's the "this was an illegal war". And our intervention in Kosovo was what?? Where was the UN approval for that?? And no, NATO's approval isn't equivalent. Wasn't any, was there, just bold American arrogance. Or could it have been to prove that Mr. Clinton can lead a nation into war, after his humiliation in Somalia?

Some complain about the detainees in Guantannamo and their lack of human rights? Explain to me under the Geneva convention, exactly where do terrorists get rights?? Only members of the military of sovreign nations get rights under the Geneva and Hague conventions. Tell me, where were the rights for the thousands killed in NYC, Washington DC, and over the fields of Pennsylvania?? Why do terrorists deserve humane treatment? Many who have been discharged from Gitmo have not complained about their treatment. But, tell me, how do you go about finding out about the next terrorist activity on your soil or mine??

Spain has appeased the terrorist for now, but alas, they will experience more. Did the germans stop at the Sudentanland, Czechoslovakia? Did they just kill jews. With the ever increasing numbers of muslims in Europe, how many terrorist cells exist??

What will Europe do if they are attacked next? Where should they turn for assistance? Why should America care what happens to them?? Europe thumbed its nose at the US (less Britain), it was in bed with Hussein in the "Food for Oil" program. Should Europe be attacked, America won't stand still, after all, our countries roots begin with Europe, we are Europe west after all. We will once again shed blood for Europe should they be attacked. Many Americans will wonder why after the treatment Europe gives us, but America knows that to allow Europe to be devestated by terrorism, means dire days for the rest of the world.

I hope things as my northern neighbor (the post above this one) states, don't come to that. Europe has to wake up and smell the coffee, the alternative for them, well, its just ugly.

Posted by: Chris at May 23, 2004 1:36 PM

Why does the right want to spend thousands of lives and billions of dollars on this war to free Iraqis and they will not approve a few extra pennies of tax money to help our education system and our medical system? Suddenly the right is so generous. I am happy about a liberated Iraq but I'm not happy about the means that we took to reach it. (Or supposedly will reach it soon. That is yet to be determined. Hopefully the people will vote wisely someday and not elect a fundamental Islamic government.) Unjustified war is not justified.

Posted by: Angie at May 25, 2004 11:29 AM

Angie,

Believe it or not, many conservatives sincerely believe that funneling additional obligatory funding into the education and healthcare systems will be to the benefit of Americans, rich or poor. Increasing the flow of water won't mend a broken mill and will probably cause more damage.

And, incidentally, from what I understand, where the first instances of democracy have been put into effect in Iraq, the radicals didn't fare well.

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 25, 2004 3:51 PM

Justin,
That is refreshing that conservatives care about funding education and healthcare. Do conservatives care about the environment too? You could blame rising gas costs on the “boutique” gas blends that the law says the gas companies must abide by. I’m glad to spend a few extra bucks on gas for my Honda Civic if I know the air I’m breathing is cleaner. And what about mercury in the water? I’m willing to pay a few extra bucks on water purification to know that children’s brains will develop normally with no mercury in the water (unlike Mr. Bush). Maybe the Iraq war and democratization of the Middle East is the broken well that you refer to. Russia invited democracy. We did not have to force it down their throats. Maybe in time the Middle East would invite it too. Time. But instead we rushed into an unjustified war. Why couldn’t the inspectors finish their job. If you have a health problem, doesn’t the doctor run lots of tests before suggesting surgery? What was the urgency to take the most extreme route possible? I supported the war until I realized there really was no urgency. Unless it is the administration’s plan to take out one evil dictator at a time.

And it is refreshing to hear that fundamentalist groups in power in Iraq do not flourish. I hope that is the case. As for our country, our fundamentalist government is flourishing and the Bush administration is doing God’s (Christian God’s) will. After all, doesn’t the Bible talk about a big war in the Middle East. Bush just decided to become the fate pusher. I’m sure that’s what God wanted.

Posted by: Angie at May 25, 2004 9:25 PM

@Robin

So explain to me the contradiction please. First you tell me that you do not understand how i can not force the belief "murder is wrong" onto other people, yet the next second you shoot the terrorist. That's murder as well. In my opinion you simply cannot go on killing people as long as you state that murdering someone is wrong. Of course we can say "well this guy commited a capital offence", but then you are just paving the way for terrorist and others to kill people because they did something wrong in the eyes of the terrorists. Whether you call it justice or murder, it still has the same outcome -> someone's death.

@Steve

Interesting blog you put up here, but i would have to disagree on a number of things.
Europe does stand up for liberal values, but it will not do so blindly. There's a line that one can cross, which is violence. Any belief that supports violence will not be supported by europe.
Sure you have your political corrupt ties to certain "evil" dictatorships, but people know about that. All connections between the french and german government with iraq were exposed through the media. But what was also exposed were the lies being fed by GWB and Blair about the alledged WMD in iraq. Europeans are not against america, but against the war. We all agreed Saddam had to be removed, i think you will find few europeans that would think otherwise, but there are other ways than war. And talking about corrupt ties to "evil" countries. The Moore movie you mentioned at the end of your blog did open a few eyes on the connections Bush's family has with Bin Laden's family. And wasn't it mr Blair who recently visited mr. Khadaffi himself. If we're going to talk politics (which is corrupt by it's pure nature) europe isn't the only part in the world which likes to protect people and countries to serve their own needs.

Just to clear history up a bit again. Italy and spain were indeed fascist. Germany wasn't so until '36. And that was purely because of some clever play by an ingeneous group of people including mr Hitler. Democratic law gave him the right to take control in certain situations. Once he had done so, he cleverly grew into a dictator.
Anyways i think that by stating europe has weak democratic roots, just by the fact that spain and italy used to be fascist is cutting the corner a bit short. Europe is larger than those countries alone.

Then you say:
"So in europe today the reigning iseology is one of one of undemocratic "spin", of perception, of appearing always compassionate, peaceful, tolerant. yet the reality is one of abject corruption"
As i mentioned before, there where there is politics, there is corruption. Your remark not only holds for europe, but for any part of the world. including the states. And how about the "I did not have sex with that woman" statement of Clinton. Last time i checked lying under oath was a major crime. The fact that berlusconi (whom is not a major player in europe btw) and chirac got away with crimes is not much different than the way american government people get away with it. Though i have to give it to them, the us government does a better job at making people believe everything is fair and square in the states.

Then going on i will disregard the remark about the EU funding palestinians. I will just point out that it was the states who put saddam in his place, who gave saddam his weapons (to fight iran). And that's not the only terrorist funding that's on the list. Most of Osama Bin Laden's money comes directly from the US. and we all know what he did with it...
And besides that the eu parliament IS accountable for its actions with all of europe as the electorate. And i can guarantee that if our economy goes on to fail, which i think it will as well, europe will not be blaming anyone but their own leaders. In no way will any educated european blame the US for its own economical undoing.

Next there was no "silence by liberal media on blatently illegal activities by germany, france and russia" Every self-respecting media organisation in europe told us why the governments were against the war. Yet i'll underline again, that the people were not against the war because there government was against it. The people were against it because the war was started over the wrong reasons: WMD.
The Chirac, Schroder and Berluconi matter is something different. Both Schroder and Chirac aren't very popular among their own citizens anymore, both are highly likely to loose the next elections.

I am not under the impression that i can convince you anymore. You seem to have made up your mind.
I agree that some things are horribly wrong in europe, but i haven't seen you mention anything that is not also taking place in the states and Brittain as well. Except of course that the americans can't be jealous of their own economy, but i assure you, 95% of the europeans isn't jealous of the american economy either.
So although i might agree with you on a few points, i am going to suggest here that europe isn't the only one that is reluctant to self-criticism. If the states would have used a little more criticism, Bush wouldn't even be in power, cause facts show these days that it was Al Gore who won the elections. In case the US citizens would have noticed that, the iraq war might not have happened at all and we would not be having this discussion.
Then again, i think this is an interesting discussion.
I would once again like to stress that i am not against the US, just against stupid decisions.

Ciao people

Posted by: Tim at May 26, 2004 12:45 PM

It's obvious that there will not be a unified position in this country about any of the issues emerging from the war against terrorism until the US is struck once again by a calamitous attack by Muslim extremists. America was ONE after 9/11/2001 but is again divided as the North and South were in the Civil War. During this war BOTH SIDES felt that right and justice were on their side. I suspect almost everyone has no arguments with the outcome of that conflict, whatever their political stripe or agenda.

There was probably opposition for the US entry into WWII although that is also difficult to imagine today. There were people sympathetic with the totalitarianism which suppressed millions under communism. Today it's hard to believe that anyone misses the demise of this oppressive system or doubts that the world is safer as a result.

Now we are confronted by a threat as deadly as those posed by Hitler and Stalin and yet again we can't deal with it with unified resolve. What difference does it make who is at the helm? Kerry, Bush, or someone else? The same determination and commitment will be necessary to defeat this foe! This foe cannot be fought and defeated on US territory only. It has to be vanquished in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Phillippines, etc.

What does it matter how the economy does, or if welfare is funded, or senior's get health benefits, or more money is allocated to education if in one decisive blow bin Laden's butchers and demons launch a devastating atrocity that kills thousands or millions? Are we still incapable of envisioning the unimaginable after 911 and all that's followed?

It astonishes me that Hollywood wants to frighten us with the potential ecological disasters of global warming in a movie like "Day After Tomorrow" but fails to consider releasing a movie about the more imminent threat of "global terror". Our enemy has studied us carefully, knows of our preoccupation with the Constitution, with civil liberties, with our tendency to national guilt and recrimination over wrongdoing, with everything but THEM.

We've always won conflicts threatening our national existence and way of life through strong leadership, courageous service of our armed forces and a determination to preserve liberty and freedom. Wanting these we will one day lose. Vietnam did not threaten us directly. The war on terror does. Put aside your differences people. This is no time for quibbling and agendas and blame and guilt. Regardless of who wins the election in November if they can't lead and we can't put our differences aside to defeat this enemy none of this chatter will matter. Neither Bush nor Kerry are Winston Churchill but they'll do if we unite behind them.

Posted by: Len Porochnia at June 1, 2004 11:05 PM

Well, that is VERY SCARY! I think I'll give up all my freedoms and turn all of my rights over to the government so they can protect me from GLOBAL TERROR! I could die next!! Forget schools! Forget medicine! Forget protecting the globe we live on! Forget it all! I'm going to die! The next terrorist is outside my window! Thank Bush that we're in Iraq fighting the terrorists!! Oh wait...the terrorists weren't in Iraq. They were in Saudi Arabia. Wait...aren't they our friends?

Posted by: Angie at June 3, 2004 11:26 AM

No Angie, I don't think we will forget the things you've mentioned like YOU have forgotten the war on terror. Or perhaps I should not say "fogotten" but "ignore". You can see the threat to our environment from whatever you consider the sources to be, but you are totally blind to the threats to our culture and civilization by the serial killers popularily referred to as "terrorists". You are probably more frightened by what global warming might do in the next 1000 years than what terrorists might do in the next 6 months. Apparently you feel more personal danger by environmental hazards than by murderers who would slit your throat in seconds if you were unfortunate enough to be in their captivity. You are entitled to your opinions and concerns but I think my anxieties will continue to center around those who might mutilate me and my family and friends given the chance.

Posted by: Len Porochnia at June 3, 2004 9:53 PM

Len,
I agree that the war on terror needs attention, but we musn't neglect other immediate issues that affect the lives of everybody everyday. Global warming is not my concern in the least, actually. Of more of a concern is protecting drinking water that affects your child's brain today. And making sure that your children have medicine if they get sick tomorrow and making sure they can be educated and contribute to society when they grow up. Risk assessment is needed here. You are thousands more times likely to get mutliated when you drive your car to work today than by a terrorist. Terrorism is a problem of the times that needs attention, but I don't see that people have stopped driving cars for fear of dying in a car crash. And besides that, our resources going to Iraq are only creating more terrorists rather than ridding us of them. We were on the right track in Afghanistan. But the Iraq war was a useless move and drain of our resources to "fight terrorism"...or get rid of Sadaam or whatever reason it is today. It just added to the problem. Like Tim, I am also against stupid decisions. Sudan needs our help now. Genocide is happening there. Why aren't we sending the troops in and threatening war to make them stop? I just think taking care of our people at home is important too. But there will be few resources left to do that after the Iraq war. Unless the focus of our resources is to save the rest of the world. In that case, we need to move troops into Sudan now.

Posted by: Angie at June 4, 2004 1:51 PM

Angie,

I share your concern with what's happening in the Sudan but you express no empathy with the hundreds of thousands that Saddam has tortured, mulitaled, incarcerated, murdered, etc. Why does the suffering in Sudan upset you so much while the torment of the Iraqis does not?

We drive cars, take planes, subways, etc. knowing that there's always the possibility of an accident which may result in disability or death. Terrorism is different.

The terrorists we are dealing with are less interested in killing us than in dominating us, in destroying our way of life, in subjugating us to their midieval theocracy, in insuring that women live in servitude, that Islam be pre-eminent in every detail of our daily lives. I would rather be dead than live in the kind of world they want to impose and if it came to that I assure you that I would fight for liberation from tyranny or die doing so. I've studied the Middle Ages and I want no part of them - Catholic or Muslim.

In 1968 when the Soviets invaded Czekoslovakia I was outraged that the US did not come to the assistance of people dying for freedom. In 1998 someone I worked with who was from Afghanistan tole me how the Taliban brutalized women. I was outraged that the US media did not even cover such stories. When I read in the NY Times how Pakistani "tribal elders" dispensed justice when a woman accused a man of rape I was sickened to my stomach. So, Angie, there's enough suffering, misery, inequality, injustice, famine, sickeness in the world to give each of us a "cause" - take your pick.

I am keenly aware of the inhuman crimes committed by men like Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, Saddam, Mao, etc. The world must first be rid of such monsters before we can begin to heal the sick, feed the hungry, care for the disabled, cure cancer and all the rest. What does it take to rid the world of men such as these? Military might and power or assassination. I have no preference, although the latter is much cheaper in many respects.

With respect to Iraq, I can tell you that when Bush Senior did not finish the job in 1991 I lost all respect for him. I also think Bush Junior was a willing or unwilling victim of a lot of incompetence to wage the war against Saddam. The intelligence failures alone that led to the war and since are disgraceful and shameful. Nevertheless, am I glad Saddam and his serpent offspring are gone? ABSOLUTELY!

Maybe some day soon we can move troops into the Sudan to assuage the plight of those suffering people. But, in this regard I have a question for you: Why can't the other nations of the world take an active role in helping the Sudanese? Why is it ALWAYS THE US that has to take the lead, spend the resources? WHY DID FRANCE AND GERMANY fail to assist us in deposing Saddam and establishing freedom and prospertity in Iraq? Because of Mr. Bush's "cowboy" attitude of their own self-centered interests and culpability in sustaining this monster? Get angry with them Angie and give the US a break!

Posted by: Len Porochnia at June 4, 2004 10:08 PM

There are people want the US to be the world's policemen and then there are those who don't want the US to be assume that role. They get upset when we intervene, or they get upset when we don't intervene. Its a tough choice isn't it??

Somewhere on the east side of NYC there are buildings that were built after WWII, whose goals were to keep things like that from happening again, yet, those things continued. If the UN exists for nations to argue their differences diplomatically, why hasn't it been a force in the world oh these past years?? Where were wars in African nations allowed to occur, or in European nations? Are those buildings there so people can posture and browbeat other nations, are are they there so serious discussions can keep unwanted death and destruction from occurring.

Why do people, when it suits them want America involved in everything, even if it goes against this nations best interests, and then the minute that we're not needed, those very same nations hate this country? Our country has countlessly sent their children to fight and die so that others can be free, and as some have stated, the only thing that was asked for, was some land to bury those valiant dead in?? Why do many see America as Imperialists, yet they have not created an empire, taken over countries and inhabitted as was practiced by Europe before this nation was born??

Posted by: Chris at June 6, 2004 1:01 AM

Call me optimistic, but I think we and other countries should all veer away from war and military might. Germany and many other countries in Europe got the crap bombed out of them during WWII. That's why they do not support war and will do anything to avoid it. One of these days we're going to piss off China or North Korea and they're going to bomb an entire portion of our country. Then generations following that may not want to go to war until that shock and memory wears off many generations later. Dennis Kucinich actually wanted to create a Dept. of Peace. Isn't that a nice thought? Let's concentrate on that instead. We boast our military strength, therefore we are always the ones expected to do the dirty work. If we focused more on peace, maybe we would only have to do the dirty work when absolutely necessary, like when WMD's REALLY exist or when genocide is occurring as it is today in Sudan or was when Hitler dictated. There are a lot of smart leaders out there. Diplomatic resolutions to problems should be possible to most conflicts if you get the smartest people working on them. War is barbaric and inhuman and creates a generation of disabled and mentally ill people. We need to move towards peace and giving rather than burning our resources in bombs and people's lives. Call me optimistic, but if we focus our energies in that direction, the world would be a different place. And keep war as the ABSOLUTE last resort. If one leader (with no war experience, mind you) out of a couple hundred believes we should go to war, then we should probably re-consider instead of charging in. There is probably a good reason that lots of smart leaders disagree. To rush in with so little preparation and so much disagreement from other countries is shameful to our country and not safe for our soldiers who are going to fight.

Posted by: Angie at June 6, 2004 9:34 PM

Angie,

I've been keeping an eye on your comments here and have mostly concluded that there isn't sufficient common ground to justify the effort of whittling through the differences. "There is probably a good reason that lots of smart leaders disagree." Well, "smart" can mean different things, and there were smart leaders who agreed. But I don't see much potential for helpful discussion given your elision of one glaring "reason" for some of the most prominent of those nations: complicity in Hussein's illegal activities, in large part through the auspices of the U.N.

However, one comment that you've made presents what might be an opening:

One of these days we're going to piss off China or North Korea and they're going to bomb an entire portion of our country.

So what if we do absolutely nothing — and I mean nothing — to upset these nations and one of them bombs us anyway? North Korea apparently has nuclear weapons. What do we do when its psychopath of a leader builds up a sufficient arsenal that he thinks he's got forces who would oppose him in check? How do we keep track of where North Korea's nuclear technology winds up without taking actions that might be construed as aggressive?

What do we do, in short, if we can't wish this away?

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 6, 2004 9:44 PM

I've enjoyed reading all of the blogs to date and I'm quite impressed by the individualism and the intelligence of most of what is written. As far as the war in Iraq, I think we are doing the right thing. Will it push more barabric atrocities to the front? Absolutely, but does that mean we sit and do nothing? What did this country do to deserve the attacks of 9/11? Or the other terrorist bombings, murders, abductions over the last decade. These people have their own agenda and are simply not going away, so I believe we are in for an extremely long struggle against this type of behavior. I guess what bothers me the most in what I've read is the attitude of a few bloggers that we should only purrsue peace. This is a wonderful concept, but unfortunately it is not realistic. Just like the quiet, shy kid on a playground that get's picked on...some day he has to fight back. At what point do we reach "enough is enough"? I believe the USA, Britain, Israel et. al have reached this point. I do not condone violence, but if i am threatened, i will defend, and that is what I believe our country is doing and I think we are correct in doing so.

Posted by: Matt at June 7, 2004 5:12 PM

Who is the bully here? A few leaders agreed with Bush and gang because we are the bully and they dare not go against us for fear we may not defend THEM in the future. They know they need to kiss our you-know-what if they want any support in the future. England agreed to go IF we involved the UN, but at the last minute Bush and gang says, we're going in anyway...are you with us or against us? Blair and gang were in a tough spot. They went with us despite much disagreement from the population. Please educate me on one other country that shows much support for this war.

We need to choose our battles wisely. If your next door neighbor owns a gun, do you shoot him in case he ever decides to shoot you? Maybe you make friends (or try to stay on his good side at least) to prevent him from using his weapon. Wait...but then you find out he doesn't even own a gun! Ooops! I think we, as a world power, need to approach conflicts through peacefulness. A visionary concept, but if we make that our goal, I think we will gain much more respect in foreign relations. No one bombs Canada. No one bombs Scandinavia. We are making ourselves a target by being such an aggressor (aggressing terrorists=ok, aggressing Iraq when larger things exist=not ok). If you like for us to be known as aggressor, then vote accordingly. If you want someone to lead us so that war is the very last resort, then vote accordingly.

Where is the link between terrorism and Iraq anyway? Sadaam hated those terrorists as much as we do (religious fanatics vs. secular beliefs). Saudi Arabia harbored them. North Korea had a nuke and they were bragging about it but somehow Iraq was more important. This is my point, Justin. North Korea DOES deserve attention. They are a threat. We have come to find out that Iraq is small potatoes but they are mean small potatoes. And now we are fighting their civil war for them. We need to choose our battles more wisely and if we choose war (as the last resort preferably) let's make it count. Not go for a country that is NOT a threat to us and the rest of the world. Let's put our valuable resources towards the right imminent threat. Al-Qaida, North Korea, Sudan(who just needs help)...these need our attention more than Iraq. But now we've spent billions of dollars on a cause that no one in the world supported except Bush and gang and 50% of the the US. Question these leaders. They are very deceptive and un-diplomatic. Why can't anyone comprehend that Iraq and terrorists are not equal? Or WERE not equal, until we went in and stirred up the Middle East and created MORE terrorists. I want a leader who will be creative with diplomacy and understand the cause and effect of our actions realistically and think before acting.

Posted by: Angie at June 7, 2004 9:37 PM

Angie,

Your Gatling gun of talking points isn't going to advance this discussion, because I can't address every point (although I believe each to be wrong or distorted), and just about everybody will either nod or shake his or her head and leave it at that. A few points — if you answer any of them, please do so directly:

1. North Korea

North Korea DOES deserve attention. They are a threat.

Your previous concern was that we would "piss off" North Korea, and that it would "bomb an entire portion of our country." The question is still on the table: what sort of attention can we give it that won't bring about this outcome? Or are you disavowing your previous point that "pissing off" hostile countries should be our central concern?

2. Iraq

We have come to find out that Iraq is small potatoes but they are mean small potatoes.

I do not agree in the least that this is what we've "come to find out." However, granting it purely for the purposes of debate, it seems to me that, even so, you've got two options: Either (A) you must declare that the Bush administration, just about every politician who commented on the matter in the dozen years leading up to the war, and almost every intelligence agency around the world knew and lied about Iraq's being "small potatoes," or (B) you must concede that it was reasonable to act under the assumption that the country represented quite large potatoes. Which is it?

3. al Qaeda

Al-Qaida, North Korea, Sudan(who just needs help)...these need our attention more than Iraq.

Let's drop Sudan, because the necessity for attention (with which I agree) is more humanitarian than geopolitical. North Korea falls under point 1 above. So, al Qaeda: what sort of attention does it need? And if giving it that intention requires war with a nation-state, ought that to be pursued?

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 7, 2004 9:59 PM

Justin,
1. Acutally I really have no idea how to handle N. Korea or else I would be President or Congresswoman or a leader of this country. However, I do feel that if we were bombed as severely as Europe was, then we would avoid war in the future. And I feel that North Korea deserves to have resources put to solving that problem rather than Iraq.
2. Apparently many people have lied to us about WMD's and the urgency to rush into war. Chalabi's defectors told us all about mobile weapons units and aluminum tubes, etc. Almost everything that Powell showed in his speech to the UN before the war was not valid. Chalabi apparently had his defectors tell us information about WMD's that was not true at all and we acted on it. The truth IS slowly coming out if you pay attention.
3. Once again, I am not a leader and war strategist, so I do not know the best way to fight terrorists. I just suggest we put our resources and energy into fighting them rather than Iraq. If any nation state ought to be pursued, then it seems Saudi Arabia should. Yet we remain friends with them. Why? Oil. What is the connection between Iraq and the terrorists (specifically Al Qaida, rather than the terrorists created since the start of the war)? PLEASE tell me why half the country thinks these go hand-in-hand and justifies the war in this way.

Posted by: Angie at June 7, 2004 11:08 PM

Angie,

Well, that's awfully convenient. You don't know what other ways there might have been or what ought to be done; you just think there must be some other way than the Bush administration's way. Would you like to wrap this up and concede that, given your lack of expertise, as far as you are able to tell, it's conceivable that the Bush administration is taking the most prudent steps that it deems, in its best judgment, to be possible? Assuming your answer to be "no," my responses to your previous comment:

1. So do you or do you not retract your suggestion that "pissing off" North Korea is the central concern in dealing with it? What do you believe — if you believe this — the Bush administration is doing wrong vis-à-vis North Korea? Generally speaking, do you believe it ought to be taking a harder, more militant approach? And do you think forced regime change in Iraq had any effect on our negotiating position in North Korea (a country, remember, that probably has a nuclear weapon)?

2. I think you're over-confidently overstating Chalabi's deception, but let's put that aside and assume you're correct. Did the leaders — Republican and Democrat, U.S. and international — who went with the best available information being filtered to them lie, or was it reasonable for them to make policy decisions based on the facts that they had, suggesting that Iraq was a bigger problem than you now believe it to have been?

3. So, generally speaking, if dealing with Iraq requires war with a nation-state, do you favor that action? Yes or no. And do you favor war with Saudi Arabia despite the existence of somewhat open channels for diplomacy between that country and the United States? In other words, should war not be a last resort in that case? (Incidentally, I favor a harder line against Saudi Arabia, although not war... just yet.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 7, 2004 11:29 PM

1. What the Bush administration is doing wrong regarding N. Korea is FIGHTING IRAQ. And committing our valuable resources to Iraq rather than more urgent issues! Now Iraq is started and the job must be finished, but we did not need to start it. There were other, more pressing issues. Such as finding bin Laden and spending more time and energy on the Al Qaida circuit. And I see that conservatives see war as scaring others so that they will not mess with us, while liberals see war as perpetuating more hatred. Especially in this instance. Maybe N. Korea will think twice before attacking us, or maybe they will use the WMD's they do have. And maybe Al Qaida has grown by leaps and bounds while we perpetuated war in the Middle East and killed thousands of civilians there (what's the number--30,000 plus).
2. And I repeat myself once again: There was not urgency in going to war! The facts were in the process of being uncovered. Many people, including Powell, felt uncomfortable going into war with the small amount of information we had. An investigation was underway and the rest of the world wanted the investigation to be correctly completed, but Bush and gang jumped the gun.
3. And I repeat myself once again: I personally sitting at home safely in front of my computer with no expertise on war strategy, bear the opinion that I never favor war unless it is the absolute last resort. WWII was a last resort. Iraq was not. Saudi Arabia is definitely not. But we definitely need to start probing into the truth regarding their relationship to Al Qaida.

I have been cooperative to answer your questions. I wish you would answer my one question on behalf all who share your political views: What is the connection between Iraq and Al-Qaida that justifies the war? and for that matter Why ARE we fighting this war? In your opinion.

Posted by: Angie at June 8, 2004 12:22 AM

Angie,

1. North Korea. Unless you believe that we should invade North Korea in the fashion that we invaded Iraq, I don't see how our involvement in the latter has any draining effect on the former. Taking a walk every day might be crucial to one's health, but buying a car doesn't drain "valuable resources" from the activity of walking.
2. al Qaeda. The number that I've heard (total current global membership, I believe) for al Qaeda is 18,000. I don't know where that comes from, but by itself it tells us nothing; what was membership and recruitment like before?
3. Iraq. Regarding the "investigation" that was "under way," it was said all along that, for the inspections process to be valid, Iraq must actively comply. In fact, it was found in "material breach" of its agreements, and the three nations most benefiting from the Oil for Food scam declared that they would not allow any resolutions setting any deadlines.
4. Your questions:

What is the connection between Iraq and Al-Qaida that justifies the war? and for that matter Why ARE we fighting this war?

Regarding the first question, it's difficult to know what to argue, because I don't know what you've seen and rejected. Here's some of the latest points arguing for a direct link to September 11. I've never thought that direct a link to be necessary; ties and assistance to al Qaeda, as well as other groups, is enough to make Iraq part of the War on Terror, and that evidence has been lying around for a while and has only increased.

Regarding your second question, personally, I've supported war to remove Hussein since the '90s, first of all for humanitarian reasons. I bought the anti-sanction arguments back in the '90s, but realized that it would be disasterous, more broadly than even just regarding Hussein, to drop them while the Ba'athists were still showing open contempt for their agreements. I also suspected — as has been proven — that Hussein would rush to restart production, add to his stockpiles, and use WMDs the moment the eye of the world was off him. This was dangerous, in large part, because with international terrorism on the rise and escalating its strategies (from hijacking to attacks), Hussein could deliver WMDs without any tracable weapon.

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 8, 2004 8:47 PM

Hi Justin,
You state that you have supported the ousting of Saddam Hussein for humanitarian reasons since 1991. Yet, you also said that Sudan should be left out of the argument because it represents a humanitarian crisis rather than a geopolitical one. Ignoring the inherent contradiction in these claims, I take serious issue with the second one.
The situation in Sudan is very much a geopolitical crisis. Have you forgotten that, at the time of the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, Osama Bin Laden was a guest of the Sudanese government? If Sudan is not of geopolitical importance, why did the United States bomb Sudanese targets in retaliation for the attacks on our embassies?
Failed states such as Sudan and Afghanistan are generally agreed to provide fodder for terrorism and violence. So, that begs the question: why was the former situation in Iraq more important than the current one in Sudan? This question becomes more poignant when one considers that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have both explicitly stated that Saddam Hussein had no connection to 9-11. The Sudanese government obviously did.
I think one thing that all Americans can agree upon is that we want to be more safe from terrorism. And that is why I take issue with the Iraq war. While we have been focusing on Iraq, has Kim Jong Il been quietly building more nuclear weapons? And what has the government of Iran been up to? Has our attention been diverted from equally (if not more) pressing matters?
And more importantly, I worry that our invasion of Iraq, with the subsequent gruesome images that are posted daily on Al Jazeera, will come to be a rallying point for militant Muslims not unlike 9-11 and Pearl Harbor were for Americans. By strengthening their unity against a common enemy and fueling their hatred, I worry that we have served only to make ourselves less safe. Trying to kill terrorists could prove to be like chopping heads off the Hydra. With each shot fired, we increase the likelihood of future terrorism.
Do I claim to know how to eliminate terrorism? Certainly not. But I firmly believe that we cannot eradicate terrorism by making more enemies and ignoring failed states.

Posted by: Eric at June 9, 2004 2:14 AM

Hello Eric,

In dropping Sudan, here, I was just trying to keep the conversation manageable. Of course, all failed states are dangerous in the context of terrorism, but I haven't heard anybody suggesting that Sudan combines the combination of tyranny, terrorism, and advanced weapons programs that Iraq did.

Bush and Cheney have not "explicitly stated that Saddam Hussein had no connection to 9-11." At most, they've stated that they haven't seen any evidence, usually in carefully worded terms.

As for Iraq's being a distraction, I have to wonder what it is you think we could be doing otherwise. It's not as if the government consists of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, with nobody else to keep tabs on the various areas of concern in the world. I did worry, at first, that North Korea would do something drastic that would have mandated all-out war, but it hasn't, and anything that it's currently doing, it could be doing were 130,000 of our troops still within our borders.

Moreover, our presence in Iraq isn't distinct from efforts in Iran, both as a political matter and as a matter of the roiling opposition to the mullahs that already existed in that nation. And why doesn't anybody wonder whether our activities in the Middle East are distracting nations such as Iran from their other projects, like pursuit of WMDs?

As for creating enemies via Iraq: only if we fail. If we're successful in rebuilding, we've gained friends.

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 9, 2004 7:04 AM

The people who agree with the war, it seems, do not believe a direct link between Al Qaida and Sadaam to be necessary. The people who agree with the war find the urgency to attack Iraq acceptable even though it occurred 6 months after 9/11 and even though 9/11 is not directly related to Sadaam Hussein. The people who agree with the war are able to disregard that the reason we initially went to war was based on lies that our government told us. Most of the right seems to agree that the war was worth the risk. If we succeed, we gain friends, as you say. If we fail, the consequences could be disastrous. The consequences of succeeding outweigh the consequences of failing, in our administration's and in your opinion. I hope for everyone's sake that the war succeeds.

Posted by: Angie at June 9, 2004 4:48 PM

No angie, don't condescend. you don't wish for any such positive outcome. not in the slightest, nothing could be more compellingly obvious.

you seem to have a compulsive liberal need to always be at the moral center of every disagreement. you lecture & harangue & belittle & cajole & spout on endlessly about others' solecisms & moral lapses, while 'you' only want peace love serenity 3-graces-dancing-in-a-fantasy-meadow yet all the while there is a subtle dark disinguousness behind everything you say. your politics gives you a feeling of absolute moral superiority. your contempt for even the need to discuss such truisms was apparent.

you're a compelling example of how liberalism has grown so morally degenerate. by deliberately & aggressively speaking in circles, insisting on the rightness of your opinions for the unimpeachable reason that it is 'you' who believes them.

you absolutely don't think you 'need' to prove anything you say, it is just we neanderthal conservatives who perversely won't bow to your received wisdom.

do you think any sincere observer could fail to notice that you did not directly & clearly answer any of the questions put to you? yet you insisted repeatedly with an indulgent-barely- withheld-rancor that you were trying so mightily to transform warmongers into noble savages capable of receiving your dogmatic truisms as anything even remotely close to rational, cogent, sincere, compassionate thought.

i really began to think you had a cognitive disorder b/c i wondered if you were really so unaware of your 'voice', its passive/aggressive lecturing hectoring tone that so ill serves any pursuit of the truth. it was like listening to mormons drunk on moonshine.

that's what i found fascinating. the infantilist liberal incapacity for rational thought, & the moral superiority complex, & the talking in circles, & the talking in circles, & the ... ad nausoleum

i can't be civil when i witness such a depraved insincere masquerade for 'speech'.

aaarg.

steve

Posted by: steve at June 11, 2004 11:05 AM

I last visited this blog on June 4th. The respite was welcome. In reading the comments I cannot help but think that the opponents are engaged in attempts at "conversion", not unlike Muslims trying to convert Christians and vice versa, or Anti-Abortionists and Pro-Abortionists, the North and South in the Civil War, and so on. I suspect that there are very fundamental views of the world, of morality, of good and bad, or right and wrong and even personal biases and prejudices at the core of our debate.

What, for example, makes it compelling to save starving and dying people in the Sudan or elsewhere, but makes it a moral outrage to do the same for people murdered, tortured, mutlilated in Iraq - or elsewhere? Why is the annihilation of Al Qaida so universally accepted, whereas the threats to peace and stability of a Saddam Hussein are discounted? Why was the extermination of Jews by Hitler not sufficient reason to decalare war on this monster? Why did Japan have to attack the US before we would do so?

Some will say that the US has always been isolationist, disinterested in the affairs of the rest of the planet - until it was attacked. Are we really so guilty of indifference to the events in the rest of the world? Are we really so blind that we cannot see that what happens in the rest of the world WILL INEVITABLY ARRIVE AT OUR DOORSTEP? But, of course, there are so many potential threats that one must wonder which we need to be concerned with. Are developments in Europe more important than those in Africa, or Asia or Latin America? Or are internal problems and issues enough for our available resources and leadership to deal with?

How we answer these questions will depend on many factors, some personal, some political, some historical and so on. It's obvious that the people in this debate have quite different points of view and will tend to support the alternative "leaderships" available to us accordingly. For my part, if Al Gore, John Kerry, or Hillary Clinton ever ascended to the Presidency I will be profoundly depressed and concerned about the future of this nation. Nonetheless, I am certain that others would feel the same if a republican or conservative were elected to the presidency.

So, given our irreconcilable differences, why do we waste our time trying to debate and convince and persuade each other? Logically it's a waste of time and energy. But we do it anyway. There must be a reason we disagree so, but what is it -really? If we can answer this question, then won't we always be trying to eliminate the dissenting voices, verbally or militarily? No, diplomacy and talk are not the solution - UNDERSTANDING IS! The scarcest commodity in this world is UNDERSTANDING and always has been.

Talk to you in a few weeks - maybe!

Posted by: Len Porochnia at June 14, 2004 10:15 PM

Thanks for the conversation. This has given me a clearer understanding of the views of my conservative family/friends in Ohio. Now just throw in Jesus and you have the whole equation. But it has been interesting to hear why educated and informed people support the war. As I said in my first entry, most of my family and friends do not stay educated on the issues yet still support Bush. I do not claim to be extremely educated on all the issues, but I feel I am more educated than the average voter. And I attempt to understand both sides, not agree with, but attempt to understand where each is coming from. I read Ann Coulter and watch Fox News. Do any of you plan on seeing Fahrenheit 911? We process all the information differently through our value systems inherent in us. There's not much mind-changing that is going to happening, however it is good to cross over to the "dark" side (whichever is the opposite side of your stance) occassionally to see where the opposition is coming from. Steve, perhaps the reason you feel as if I sound like I am a "mormon drunk on moonshine" is because I am trying to understand both sides. And despite what you say, I do wish for a postitive outcome.

Posted by: Angie at June 15, 2004 9:04 PM

Angie,

I do give you credit for being so relentless in your position but the fact that you read Ann Coulter is reassuring. I have watched Fox News for years but find it increasingly inept and insignificant - except for Giraldo Rivera.

I think the conservative-liberal divide is like the left-right brain dichotomy. Conservatives tend to rely more on the logical side of the brain, while liberals lean to the creative,emotional,imaginative side. Which is superior? Well, we can argue that ad infinitum! Nevertheless, when the left and right brain conflict with one another the result is likely to be tragic. When they cooperate the result may be magnificent and beneficial, to the individual and the society in which they live.

My theory is that Muslim Jihadists and American Liberals are primarily influenced by the emotional side of the brain, while the American Military and Republican conservatives listen to the logical, rational side. This explains why the two sides ALWAYS DISAGREE!

To illustrate: Jimmy Carter was a Leftist and Ronal Reagan was a Rightist. John Kerry is a Leftist and George Bush is a Rightist. Which any of us prefers is a sure indication of which side of the brain is predominant. Of course, Bill Clinton confused us all by being a "Centrist" and many of us still can't decide how we feel about him as a result. Thank God he only had 8 years in office!

Now I admit that my assertions are not based on scientific research or public opinion polls or the wisdom of pundints we encounter in our newspapers and televison programs. Yet I believe in them deeply and refuse to be dissuaded from my position. Of course if I'm wrong it won't matter anyway; anymore than it will if I'm right. For you see, it's not what you or I think or feel that matters in public policy or in human history. We are not Ceaser, or Genghis Khan, or Jesus, or Mohammed, or Hitler, or Saddam Husseim, or CNN, or FOX, or US Senators. THEY DECIDE OUR LIVES AND OUR DESTINY - NOT US! What is within our power is TO DECIDE whom and which of these sources of power we agree or disagree with. The Jihadists have made it clear who they will affirm. Now we have to decide where we stand - LEFT or RIGHT?

Posted by: Len Porochnia at June 16, 2004 10:02 PM

Len,
That is an interesting point that you bring up--I have also thought that conservatives think more logically and liberals think more emotionally. However I do not think that relating fundamental Muslims to liberals is accurate, as many liberals I know are atheists and reject religion, so this is a very scientific view. So where does that put this logical vs. emotional argument? I have been observing other conservative blogs and reading the freerepublic.com and it seems that conservatives believe that war is the only answer and we waited too long to invade Iraq as it was. Reading all of these conservative views, I still have 2 points of disagreement:
1. Yes, Saddam was very bad. But why is he the only evil dictator that we so passionately feel needed to go? I wish I had a list of the other evil dictators in this world and their atrocities to their own people (Congo, Rwanda, N. Korea, Sudan for a start) but the fact that most of the country cannot name all the other evil dictators and thier atrocities tells us that our focus has been on Iraq for so so long. Why is that? Of course the answer to that for many liberals is oil. The Bush's are very familiar with oil. It is a reasonable assumption.
2. The timing really threw me off. Here we had just had the biggest terrorist attack of our time and this new thing called "Al Qaida" was on everyone's mind and we decide to go tackle Saddam now. It's like if Italy attacked us and then we said "This is a great time to go get France!" because we knew some Italian guy had lunch with some French guy once. The timing just did not compute. Some might say this particular dictator was strategically located so that if democracy prevailed there, it would spread to the surrounding Arab countries more easily. I think this is an afterthought. I think the focus was Saddam all along, not the strategic placement of the country in the Arab world. Some might say Iraq was just the "example" the US is using to prevent other countries from attacking us. I say this is manipulative, undiplomatic and deserves criticism. This is not a reason you can admit to the public without looking like a bully.

I'm glad Saddam is gone. But I just have to question whether we made the right decision at the right time. I'm questioning, not answering. I have to question it because I have to question the values of our leaders. One NY Times article I read summed up liberals' anger quite well by saying that Bush came in as a compassionate conservative and then went very aggressively after issues that we (all Americans) feel passionate about and that divided us. Not just the war, but gay marriage, not repecting separation of church and state, retracting environmental laws, tax cuts for the wealthy, limiting stem cell research, chipping away at Roe v. Wade etc. I do not think there would be such a divide if Bush and his gang tried to see the way the opposite side sees and acknowledge these other beliefs that exist in 50% of our country.

Posted by: Angie at June 18, 2004 5:15 PM

Angie,

I think we should do a talk show on TV or radio. We could easily rival Hannity and Combs on FOX NEWS. Having watched them for some years I doubt we would ever agree much on anything, but we both might make some money in the process. Between salary and books and paraphernalia from our web site I think we would do rather well. Let me know if you're interested.

Len

Posted by: Len at June 22, 2004 11:30 PM

Len,
That's hilarious. I'm off to see Fahrenheit 911 for the opening night. I'm sure you're not. But I've been reading the reviews praising the movie and reading the right-wing websites that despise it (although they haven't viewed it yet) calling it all lies. I'll be looking forward to judging myself. One reviewer that despised it who claimed to actually have seen it said that it presents all these criticisms of how things are being handled yet offers not solutions. It takes creativity to solve problems without war. The obvious and uncreative answer to problems is "fight" and "war". That's the obvious and uncreative answer in relationships between two people and between two countries. I depend on the leaders I choose to be creative. I'll be doing my own research to see what solutions have been proposed in substitution to war in this case. Although we're already in the bloody mess, so I guess we're stuck in it. Have a nice weekend, Hannity.

Angie

Posted by: Angie at June 25, 2004 8:10 PM

Angie,

You're "Combs" not "Hannity". You said "It takes creativity to solve problems without war". Fine, in principle. Now, let's see how practical you can be. How would you defeat the terrorists who threaten to kill and destroy us? That is, how would you defeat them in a "creative" way, without resorting to war? Don't tell me about Bush or Kerry or any other "sages" who have an opinion. How would YOU, Angie, defeat the Islamic Jihadists who threaten us? I await your reply.

Posted by: Len at June 28, 2004 8:33 PM

Len,
I am not being sarcastic or avoiding the question when I give this reply:
I would go after the terrorists rather than go after a dictator who was gassing his own people and starting wars in the 80's and early 90's. Can't you see how distracted we are by this Iraq mess? The terrorists and the Iraq mess are completely different issues. Why do you not comprehend that? Let's focus on a strategy for getting Bin Laden and killing that network. All of this homeland security and little in the news about how we're going after the terrorists to get to the heart of the problem. Saddam Saddam Saddam. This country (half of it anyway) is obsessed with Saddam. What about Bin Laden and his network???

Angie

Posted by: Angie at July 2, 2004 8:35 PM